Kia has been steadily expanding its U.S. lineup in recent years. For the 2004 model year, the South Korean company launched a full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan named the Amanti.
Based on the now-extinct Hyundai XG350, the Amanti's wheelbase and body were both slightly longer. For 2005, the Leather Package included heated front seats, a HomeLink transmitter and an auto-dimming inside mirror. Depowered front airbags are tailored to deploy based on crash severity, seat belt use, and occupant size and position. An electronic stability system became available as a stand-alone option.
Newly standard equipment for the 2006 model year includes leather seats, heated front seats, a moonroof and an auto-dimming mirror with a HomeLink transmitter. A new Infinity option package includes a cassette player, six-CD changer, 4-inch monitor and driver's seat memory feature.
The Amanti's bold, square grille contains thick bars. Elliptical headlights are similar to the ones on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and integrated fog lamps are installed. LED turn signals wrap around below the bumper. The roofline is rounded at the C-pillars in what Kia calls neoclassical style. A power moonroof is available.
Nine-spoke alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires. Equipped with a fully independent suspension, the Amanti measures 196 inches long overall, rides a 110.2-inch wheelbase and stands 58.5 inches tall. A full-size spare tire is included.
Up to five people get ample space in the Amanti. Panels are trimmed with simulated wood. The driver's seat includes eight-way power adjustment and power lumbar support, while the front passenger seat gets four-way power adjustment. A memory feature is included in the Leather Package. Trunk space totals 15.5 cubic feet.
Automatic dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors and an eight-speaker cassette/CD stereo are standard. A dashboard sill shades the instrument cluster from glare, and the lockable glove box contains a separate storage tray.
Under the Hood
The Amanti's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 200 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shift mode.
Eight airbags, including front and rear side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain-type airbags, are standard. Active head restraints for the front seats move up and forward during a collision. All-disc antilock brakes are standard, and an Electronic Stability Program is optional.
Kia entered a surprising market niche with the Amanti, which rates highly when compared to the competition. Though it's short of perfection in performance and handling, this sedan rides with comfortable softness, boasts ample passenger space and includes an appealing selection of standard features.
The suspension is somewhat flaccid — suppressing the Amanti's road-holding confidence in curves — but it doesn't produce wooziness. You won't want to push it too hard through tight turns.
Kia's smooth, well-behaved automatic transmission shifts back and forth on upgrades — perhaps a few too many times. Don't expect massive response when passing or merging, but acceleration is wholly satisfactory for this league. The engine is quiet, and road noise is minimal. Front seat bottoms are a bit short and the seatbacks are a tad hard, but the driver gets great visibility.